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Friday 8 October 2010

Some quick notes:

Note: All links are numbered and the web addresses listed in order at the end

Before I launch into this weeks post (which will be up Sunday night and is on neutron star planetary systems and how they form) I've got three notes, all courtesy of the DPS 2010 conference [1]:

First: A new piece of research [2] on how the Kuiper belt [3] should look if certain models of how the ice giants[4] formed are correct, and how it doesn't in fact look that way. We should get a close look at some of those distant and shy Kuiper belt objects when the New Horizons [5] space probe gets out there in 2015.

Video above: New Horizons launch, just because I love this kind of stuff. Video courtesy of Kieran Griffith via YouTube.

Video above: A lecture given by the staff at the John J Mcarthy observatory, on the Kuiper belt. Video Courtesy of Nedski 42yt on YouTube.

As how those two mysterious ice giants, Uranus and Neptune, came to be is a big section in it, I'm delaying 'Rise of the Oligarchs' until the middle of next week. Until last night it was ready to go, now I'd like to try and work this new research into it. Damn you, hardworking astrophysicists!

Second: water ice and organic molecules have been found [6] on the surface of the 290 km wide asteroid 65 Cybele[7]. This comes soon after the discovery of the same thing on 24 Themis [8]. This suggests that the frost line (the point where ice could form) was closer in  to the young sun than thought in the early solar system. I have read values for the frost/snow line ranging from 5 AU to 2 AU, and as Themis and Cybele have maximum distances from the sun of 3.5 AU and 3 AU respectively it seems we can narrow the range of possible values now. This also prompts some facsinating and provocative thoughts on the origin of life's chemical precursors, as both asteroids are large enough to have been briefly warmed[9] by short lived isotope decay during the earliest days- perhaps enough for subsurface liquid water?

Video Above: an animation of what 24 Themis might look like up close. Courtesy of Universesum2010 on youtube.

Finally; A call out for anyone who's actually at DPS 2010. I've been slavering over the abstracts presented for the sessions yesterday on the results from the Rosetta [10] flyby of 21 Lutetia, but precious little has been said by anyone- were the results really that uninteresting (which I doubt) or just not finished enough to be worth much reporting?

List of links:

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